By Parrish Alford/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Lots of things happen at the bottom of a pile, some of them painful.
Ole Miss offensive lineman A.J. Hawkins drew a lot of attention there because he had the football. He received punches and gouging, but he also left the pile with the football.
It’s unclear why officials gave possession to Texas-El Paso, but they did, and a field goal resulted from the Rebels’ turnover in the red zone.
“I had the ball the entire time, because they tried to pitch it. I picked it up on the ground, and at the bottom of the pile, all I could see was a little hole of light,” Hawkins said. “People were punching me and flicking my nose. I had the ball the whole time, that’s why I was fighting to get up.
“When I got up the ref just looked at me and said, ‘Nah, we’re going the other way with it.’”
UTEP took possession at the Ole Miss 8 after Randall Mackey’s bobble. It was one of four fumbles on the night for the Rebels, three of them lost.
Ole Miss won the turnover margin statistic against Central Arkansas but finished minus-2 against UTEP. At minus-.50 per game, the Rebels are tied for 10th among SEC teams in turnover margin.
On Monday, Hawkins was been named the co-offensive lineman of the week, sharing the award with Kentucky guard Larry Warford.
Hawkins, of Lithonia, Ga., helped the Rebels accumulate 538 yards, 332 of them on the ground in the 28-10 win over UTEP. It was the 18th career start for Hawkins, his second at right guard. He played center and left guard his first three seasons.
Sophomore C.J. Johnson was honored as the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week last week.
It remains unclear whether sophomore wide receiver Collins Moore will play this season, Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze said.
The starting slot receiver when August camp began, Moore sustained a torn labrum on the second day. He later returned with a brace, and the question now is will the shoulder hold up if he tries to play through the year?
Moore has not played in either game.
“I hate to comment until I talk to Collins and his parents, but we’re exploring what’s best for him. He could play right now. In the doctors’ view is that shoulder going to go out again? We’re trying to take all that into consideration before we make this final decision,” Freeze said.
Freeze used 46 players against UTEP, many of them on defense. There are freshmen who will play key roles, he says, but that number is likely to drop.
Right now the Rebels are rotating six players at the two defensive tackle spots.
“We’re trying to figure out where they stack up with each other,” Freeze said. “I have to say, the inside guys, we’re playing six of those, and they’re all about the same when you grade them out and watch their production.”
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